Berlitz Cruising & Cruise Ships 2017 (Berlitz Cruise Guide) (2016)
Oasis of the Seas
Ship: 408 out of 500
Accommodation: 147 out of 200
Food: 236 out of 400
Service: 290 out of 400
Entertainment: 87 out of 100
Cruise: 296 out of 400
Overall Score: 1464 out of 2000
Oasis of the Seas Statistics
Size: Large Resort Ship
Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean International
Former Names: none
IMO Number: 9383936
Builder: Aker Yards (Finland)
Original Cost: $1.5 billion
Entered Service: Dec 2009
Registry: The Bahamas
Length (ft/m): 1181.1/360.0
Beam (ft/m): 216.5/66.0
Draft (ft/m): 30.0/9.1
Propulsion/Propellers: diesel-electric (97,200kWW)/3 pods (2 azimuthing, 1 fixed)
Passenger Decks: 16
Total Crew: 2,164
Passengers (lower beds): 5,408
Passenger Space Ratio (lower beds): 41.6
Passenger/Crew Ratio (lower beds): 2.4
Cabins (total): 2,704
Size Range (sq ft/m): 150.6-1,523.1/14.0-141.5
Cabins (for one person): 0
Cabins (with private balcony): 1,956
Cabins (wheelchair accessible): 46
Wheelchair accessibility: Good
Cabin Current: 110 volts
Casino (gaming tables): Yes
Slot Machines: Yes
Swimming Pools: 3
Hot Tubs (on deck): 10
Self-Service Launderette: No
Dedicated Cinema/Seats: No
Onboard currency: US$
This huge floating resort is for families with boundless energy
Overview. Oasis of the Seas is large, but provides a fine all-round cruise and wide range of choices for young adults and families with children (service is best in suite-class accommodation). It’s packed with innovative design elements - none more so than the dramatic Central Park, a real park at sea.
The Ship. Oasis of the Seas, the world’s first cruise ship measuring over 200,000 tons - essentially a large block of apartments sitting on a white hull - is a benchmark for all floating self-contained resorts. Technically, it’s no longer the world’s largest cruise ship because its sister, Allure of the Seas, is almost 2ins (5cm) longer. In almost every other way, however, the ships are identical.
Built as a ‘Moveable Resort Vacation’ for families with children, it is a stunning ship and a credit to Royal Caribbean International’s (RCI’s) design team. There is a lot of outdoor and indoor/outdoor space for aqua-bathing and sports, although there’s little actual space for sunbathing. There are several swimming pools, and an H2O Zone. Two large hot tubs are cantilevered over the ship’s side.
The public spaces are arranged as seven ‘neighborhoods’: Central Park, the Boardwalk, the Royal Promenade, the Pool and Sports Zone, Vitality at Sea Spa/Fitness Center, Entertainment Place, and Youth Zone. The most popular are the Boardwalk and Central Park, both open to the air, and the indoor Royal Promenade.
The Boardwalk. Its design is reminiscent of New York’s Coney Island. The Boardwalk contains shops and an art gallery. Artists who contributed to the ship’s multi-million dollar collection can sell items to passengers.
Eateries include the Boardwalk Donut Shop; Johnny Rockets, a burger/milk shake diner; and a covered Seafood Shack for fish and seafood. If you are in a Central Park cabin, you’ll need to take the elevator to get to the closest pool.
Central Park. This space is 328ft (100m) long, and has 27 real trees and almost 12,000 plants, including a vertical ‘living’ plant wall. But, unlike its New York inspiration, it includes, at its lower level, a ‘town center.’ At night, it’s a quiet, serene area - good for couples. Vintages wine (and tapas) bar is a good chill-out place, and there are several reservations-required, extra-charge dining venues; arguably the nicest is 150 Central Park, while Chops Grille and Giovanni’s Table are also popular,
The Royal Promenade really is like a floating shopping mall, with casual food eateries (including a Starbucks coffee place, at the forward end), shops with all kinds of merchandise, video screens, and changing color lights everywhere. Don’t miss the ‘Move On! Move On!’ parade, a superb circus-like extravaganza including characters from DreamWorks’ Madagascar. A neat hydraulic, oval-shaped Rising Tide Bar moves slowly through three floors and links the double-width Royal Promenade with Central Park.
Because Central Park and the Boardwalk are open to the elements - so you could hide under a tree - but better take an umbrella just in case it rains in the sunny Caribbean.
The Pool and Sports Zone forward of the twin funnels is a fun place for families. An adults-only open-air solarium and rentable cabanas are part of the outdoor scene today (there are several). Two FlowRiders are located atop the ship around the aft exhaust mast, as are basketball courts and mini-golf. The ship also has the largest jogging track at sea.
The Solarium is the most welcoming large, light-filled and restful (despite the background music) space. High atop ship, it is frequented by few children - so adults can ‘escape’ the Las Vegas-like atmosphere of much of the ship. In the casino, the roulette tables are stunning - all electronic and touch-buttony. There are also blackjack, craps, Caribbean Stud Poker, and 450 slot machines, plus a player’s club and poker room - but this really can be a smoke-filled place, even in the ‘no-smoking’ area.
The Caribbean itinerary includes a ‘private’ beach day at Labadee, the company’s leased island. RCI built its own 800ft (244m) pier, making it logistically simple for you to access the ship and beach several times during the day-long stay. Do try the zipline - it’s long, and a real blast. Other fun things: an alpine coaster, a beach club with 20 private cabanas, a large artisans’ market, and a Haitian Cultural Center.
Passenger Niggles. Finding a sunlounger (they’re so tightly packed together that there’s little space to put one’s belongings). Exterior wooden railings have mostly been replaced by fiberglass railings - this is particularly noticeable on the balconies.
Oasis of the Seas operates from a purpose-built $75 million Terminal 18 in Port Everglades (Fort Lauderdale), whose restroom facilities are minimal. Getting to the terminal is where people experience delays and frustration.
Disembarkation. If the two ‘flybridge’ gangways are working, disembarkation is relatively speedy. However, when only one is working, a line forms in the Royal Promenade, in which case it’s better to sit somewhere until the line gets shorter. Disembarkation for non-US citizens can be appallingly slow.
Accommodation. There are many, many accommodation price grades, reflecting the choice of location and size. Suite occupants get access to a concierge lounge and associated services. There are many family-friendly cabins, good for family reunions, but there are no single-occupancy cabins. The cabin numbering system is a bit awkward to get used to. In a first for RCI, cabin doors open outwards (towards you), as in most European and Scandinavian hotels. In many of the lower grade accommodation, access to the closet is awkward - often with small sofas in the way. Most cabins feel extremely small, given the size of the ship. All cabins have an iPod dock.
Some 395 interior balcony cabins have either Central Park or Royal Promenade views from their curved interior balconies, four of which are wheelchair-accessible, plus 80 cabins with windows (no balconies) and views of Central Park. But you’ll need to keep your curtains closed for privacy, which rather defeats the object. Noise could be generated along the inner promenades, particularly late at night with street parades and non-stop music.
Loft Suites. Although a few ships such as the now withdrawn Saga Rose and Saga Ruby had upstairs/downstairs suites, RCI introduced its ‘loft’ suites to the Oasis-class ships. These offer great ocean views, with floor-to-ceiling, double-height windows. Each has a lower living area plus a large balcony with sun chairs, and a stairway that connects to the sleeping area which overlooks the living area. Modern designs are dotted with abstract, modern art pieces.
There are 28 Loft Suites; 25 Crown Loft Suites measure 545 sq ft (51 sq m); three more spacious Royal Loft Suites measure 1,524 sq ft (141 sq m). Each sleeps up to six, and each has a baby grand piano, indoor and outdoor dining areas, a private wet bar, a library, and an extended 843-sq-ft (78.3-sq-m) balcony with flat-screen TV set, entertainment area, and Jacuzzi. Two large Sky Loft Suites measure 722 sq ft (67 sq m) and 770 sq ft (71 sq m), and a 737-sq-ft (68-sq-m) Crown Accessible Loft Suite includes an elevator to aid disabled passengers.
Standard cabins (balcony and non-balcony class). Electrical sockets are located below the vanity desk unit in a user-unfriendly position. Also, it’s difficult to watch television from the bed.
Washbasins in non-suite-grade cabins are tiny and low, at just 30½ins (77.5cm) above the floor level. Be careful - it’s easy to hit your head on the mirror above. Small soap bars are provided, with shampoo provided in a dispenser in the shower enclosure. Unfortunately, the shower head is fixed, making it difficult to wash yourself thoroughly. Although there is no soap dish or indentation in the washbasin surround for soap, useful touches include a blue ceiling bathroom nightlight.
Cabins are exposed to noise and whatever is happening on the Boardwalk, including rehearsals and sports activities in the Aqua Theater aft, bells from the carousel (whose animal figures took six weeks to carve), rowdy revelers late at night, plus screaming ziplining participants high above during the day, loud music from bands playing at one of the pools, and exceedingly loud announcements by the cruise director repeating what’s already printed in the daily program.
Boardwalk-view balcony cabin occupants need to close their curtains for privacy at times. However, the curved balconies - good for storing luggage to free up space inside the cabin - connect you with the open air and provide a community feeling, as you look across at balconies on the opposite side. Almost all have a sea view aft (just); those close to the aft Aqua Theater can use their balconies for a great view of any shows or events. The lowest deck of Boardwalk-view cabins has windows but no balcony - and actually the view is mainly of the top of things such as the carousel or beach hut-like structures. The best Boardwalk balcony cabins are, in my view, located on Decks 8-12. For more privacy, however, it might be best to book a sea-facing balcony cabin, not one that overlooks the Boardwalk.
Dining. Because Oasis of the Seas is an extra-large resort ship, the main meals in the Opus main dining room, which spans three decks, display well-timed production cooking and fast delivery - essentially a banquet catering operation. Almost inevitably, the food is tasteless (except for salt) and mostly underwhelming. When you book, choose one of two seatings, or ‘My Time Dining’ (eat when you want, during dining room hours). There are tables of all sizes, including some for family reunions.
Other dining options. 150 Central Park: the most exclusive restaurant combines cutting-edge cuisine with interesting design. An observation window into the kitchen allows passers-by to watch the chefs in action. Keriann Von Raesfeld offers a multi-course tasting menu. It’s open for dinner only, reservations are required and there’s an extra charge.
Chops Grille, RCI’s popular ‘signature’ steakhouse is open for dinner only, and offers premium-cut meats. There’s a cover charge, and reservations are required.
Chef’s Table, on the upper level of the Concierge Lounge, offers a six-course meal with wine. It is hosted by the executive chef, but, with just 14 seats, trying to get a reservation could be difficult.
Giovanni’s Table (a cover charge applies) is a casual Italian dining spot with a rustic feel. It features toasted herb breads, pizzas, salads, pastas, sandwiches, braised meat dishes, and stews.
Central Park Café, a casual dining spot with a high level of variety and flexibility, is an indoor/outdoor food market with line-up counters and limited waiter service. Items include freshly prepared salads, made-to-order sandwiches, panini, crêpes, and hearty soups. You order directly from the chefs behind the food stations.
Rita’s Cantina, on the Boardwalk, is a noisy canteen offering quasi-Mexican fare. The cover charge is high for what it is, and you’ll need to a wait to get a tablecloth-less table. But then it is a bit of a cantina.
Vintages is a wine bar with a robust selection of decent wines, accompanied by cheese and tapas (with an à-la-carte item charge).
Other Boardwalk spots for snacking include: Boardwalk Dog House (for hot dogs, wieners, bratwurst, and sausages), the Donut Shop, and Ice Cream Shoppe.
Elsewhere, dining venues/eateries include Izumi, offering Japanese-style cuisine, at an à-la-carte price; Sorrento’s Pizzeria; Park Café (for salads and light bites); and Wipe Out Café.
For the sweet toothed, there’s a 1940s-style Cupcake Shop (so if you’re thinking of getting married, you could have a cupcake wedding cake). For lighter, more health-conscious fare, there’s a self-serve section in the Solarium Bistro for breakfast and lunch - it’s usually quiet, too.
The Windjammer Café is the (free) casual, self-serve eatery common to all RCI ships. However, note that no trays are provided, only oval plates, so if you are disabled or have mobility difficulties you should ask for help. Also, because they’re plastic, it’s impossible to get a hot plate. The venue is simply too small to handle the number of people that can invade it at peak times - my advice is to try some of the other venues to avoid the overcrowding. The food varies from quite acceptable to less than acceptable - fresh fruit tends to be hard and unripe - and it’s best to arrive early, when things have just been cooked and displayed. Although there’s a decent enough variety, the quality of some of the meat is poor and overcooked.
Regular coffee is available free in many venues, but espresso and cappuccino (in paper cups) costs extra - in Starbucks.
The longest waiting lines are usually for Johnny Rockets and Rita’s Cantina. Note that the cover charges quoted above are subject to change - check with RCI’s website or your travel provider for the latest cover charges.
Reservation-only evening ‘parties’ in Rita’s Cantina and the Seafood Shack include popular food items and drinks. Also, three dining packages (Central Park, Chef’s, and Choice) for several specialty restaurants are available. The packaged pricing is confusing.
Entertainment. The 1,380-seat main showlounge (Opal Theater), spread over three decks, stages the popular musical Hairspray - an excellent, 90-minute-long production, just like a Broadway show - performed four times during each cruise, while Frozen in Time is a stunning, must-see ice show at the ice-skating rink.
The 750-seat Aqua Theater, located outside at the ship’s stern with a 6,000-sq-ft (560-sq-m) stage, is a stunning combination show theatre, sound stage, and events space (some great viewing places can be found high in the aft wings of the ship on both sides). The stern has some ‘overhang,’ to accommodate the venue. A DreamWorks Animation aquatic acrobatic and dive show is also presented.
Spa/Fitness. The Vitality at Sea Spa includes a Vitality Café for extra-cost health drinks and snacks. Its fitness center includes 158 cardio and resistance machines, while an extra-cost thermal suite includes saunas, steam rooms, and heated tiled loungers. You can’t just take a sauna for 10 minutes without paying for a one-day pass.